Fantasy 5: Terrelle Pryor's fantasy stock rising in Washington
(The Fantasy 5 is a quick-hit wrap-up of some of the biggest news topics of the day for fantasy football players, giving you advice you need to improve your team.)
June is almost here. That means one month. Just 30ish days until the start of the fantasy football season. We have a lot going on behind the scenes here at PFF that I think you’re going to like, and that all launches at the same time. But for now, we just have to wait. Patiently. While you wait, here’s the latest need-to-know news from around the NFL:
1. “As many touches as possible” for Terrelle Pryor.
This comes straight from the mouth of Redskins signal-caller Kirk Cousins, who raved over Pryor’s football knowledge and positive attitude in OTAs. Of course, it’s still May, and there’s a lot of fluff in the news right now. Still, the glowing reviews of Pryor, which also came from head coach Jay Gruden, are worthy of note.
Pryor steps into an ideal situation coming off a breakout season where he made the unlikely transition to wide receiver. With DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon out of the mix, Pryor is the favorite to serve as the No. 1 option. Let’s not forget that Cousins put up nearly 5,000 yards last year, so there’s plenty of production to be had. Pryor was one of the exciting players highlighted on the most recent PFF Fantasy podcast and should be considered a viable WR2 option.
2. Hunter Henry the Chargers main tight end?
Word from the Los Angeles beat suggests second-year man Henry will move into the main tight end role, with veteran Antonio Gates playing on third downs and in the red zone. Gates out-snapped Henry 585-574 last season. He also saw nearly double the number of targets with 84, compared to just 47 for Henry.
The Chargers tight end duo both finished as TE1s last year, with Gates coming in 10th and Henry one spot behind at 11. Henry’s showing was especially impressive given his lack of volume. He ranked a lowly 30th in targets, but was extremely efficient with eight scores on 36 catches. That sort of efficiency won’t continue in 2017, but the likelihood of an increased workload makes Henry worthy of consideration as one of the first 10 tight ends off the board in fantasy drafts.
3. Over/under of 820 yards for Torrey Smith?
So says Eagles beat reporter Tim McManus, who also put Smith at 47 catches and six scores. This is a good time to remind you that beat writers are not the best source for projections. McManus said, “I tend to think Torrey Smith will look more like the receiver he was in Baltimore.” He then goes on to provide essentially no evidence for why he thinks this of Smith, much less why this point supports his projection. The moral here is to take projections from beat reporters with a huge grain of salt.
Our numbers are a bit more conservative for Smith’s 2017 production, with a line of 41 catches for 604 yards and four scores. That isn’t enough production to place Smith on the fantasy radar. However, his big-play upside will keep Smith in play as a DFS option this year.
4. JuJu Smith-Schuster seeing time in the slot.
There have been rumblings about the rookie receiver seeing time in the slot, and those got louder after the Steelers parted ways with TE Ladarius Green. Without Green, Pittsburgh could deploy more four-wide sets with Smith-Schuster joining Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, and Eli Rogers on the field.
While Rogers is the early favorite to win the slot receiver duties, Smith-Schuster is certainly in the mix for the job. Though he ran just 14.5 percent of his routes out of the slot last year at USC, he could certainly see time at the position at the pro level. Smith-Schuster has a strong build at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, but doesn’t possess game-breaking speed (4.54 40 time). While he isn’t likely to do much damage as a redraft option this year, Smith-Schuster is appealing dynasty option who is worthy of consideration at the back end of the first round of rookie drafts.
5. Know the name: Jonathan Williams
In case you haven’t been paying attention, Williams is now LeSean McCoy’s primary backup in Buffalo. That’s been a valuable position over the last two seasons with both Mike Gillislee and Karlos Williams providing strong fantasy production. While neither player was an every-week option, they both finished as a top-36 fantasy running backs. They also were both RB1s in games that McCoy missed.
With Gillislee now in New England and Karlos Williams not currently on a roster anywhere, Jonathan Williams is the next man up. A 2015 fifth-rounder, Williams was extremely productive at Arkansas. He topped 1,000 yards on the ground in 2014 despite splitting time with Alex Collins, but his draft stock slipped after missing all of 2015 due to injury. Fantasy drafters would be wise to not overlook Williams as a late-round dart who has the potential to return significant value if McCoy was to go down.